The Chicago Bears are at a point in their rebuild which we are very familiar with as Lions fans. Their new head coach inherited a roster that didn’t fit his systems at the top of the depth chart let alone the back ups. There were promising signs, but their 2015 season was a disaster overall. The biggest problems that the Bears had last season were that their receivers couldn’t stay on the field, their offensive line couldn’t get the job done, and their defense was awful from front to back. They lost aging but still great running back Matt Forte, one of their only not terrible offensive linemen in Matt Slauson, and Mercurial tight end Martellus Bennet. All three players are nearing the end of their careers, and had little trouble finding work elsewhere, but are part of the natural turnover of a rebuilding team. With that said, they comprised a huge part of the Bears offense last year.
The Bears added free agents Jerrell Freeman, and Danny Trevaythan to beef up their linebacker core. They also brought in Akiem Hicks, a stout inside defender that fits their defensive scheme to a tee. Brian Hoyer was also added as the backup quarterback, a position that has seen playing time in recent years for the Bears. In the draft, the Bears added five defensive players and one offensive lineman in the first four rounds of the draft as well, showing that they understand what their deficiencies are and are trying to fix them long term. On paper it looks like the Bears might be a better team in 2016 than they were in 2015, when they managed only a 6-10 record and finished last in the NFC north. So how did that go against the Broncos?
Chicago Bears vs. Denver Broncos
The Broncos are the defending Super Bowl champions, and their defense is one of the best in the league, even after losing a large number of players in free agency this offseason. Going in to the game I don’t think anyone could have been expecting a good outcome for the Bears, they’re pretty much at the opposite end of the league from their opponents. Everything Denver does well is something the Bears are not yet good at dealing with.
The starters played the entire first quarter and revealed a few things about the Chicago Bears. The first is that they’re playing Willie Young in the premier pass rusher role on the right side of their defense. Young has been an excellent pass rusher for the bears, closing out 2015 with five sacks in the final six games. I will always have a soft spot for Young who was a Lions seventh round draft pick who panned out, but was allowed to leave, by former GM Martin Mayhew, for unknown reasons . With that said, he is a solid player, but having him in the premier pass rusher role is playing with fire for this defense. Young has never hit the double digit sack landmark (as /u/slaypeninsula pointed out, he actually has, never trust rotoworld kids, even if you are on mobile just go to the nfl for stats), and neither has anyone else on the Bears roster. What they lack in top end ability the Bears are trying to make up for with depth at the outside linebacker position. Pernell McPhee didn’t play, as he is still on the PUP list, but he, Lamar Houston and Young did combine last season for 20 sacks, and the Bears also took Leonard Floyd in the first round of the draft. Floyd looks like a project at this point, but he’s got the athleticism to be a stud outside linebacker with some coaching and a couple of years.
Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan performed their intended duties well, both were more than adequate in coverage and against the run but the depth was not there when they came out. If these two stay healthy, the Chicago Bears are going to have a pretty good front seven. The Bears linemen are plugging the middle and allowing the linebackers to flow to the ball, at least they were against the Broncos. There is not really much to talk about in terms of depth behind these two, if they get hurt it looks like there is going to be a serious drop-off for the Bears.
The Chicago Bears secondary just could not match up against the Broncos receivers. The safeties and linebackers couldn’t deal with tight end Virgil Green, and the cornerbacks couldn’t deal with Demarius Thomas, or Emmanuel Sanders. The depth players had a better time, with fourth round draft picks Deion Bush and Deiondre Hall doing a pretty good job of limiting the Broncos passing game while they were on the field. I could see Hall working his way to some playing time because of the poor performances in front of him. The other half of the Bears second unit secondary did not have that kind of luck however. Depth in the secondary, behind the sub-par starters seem likely to be the noose around this defense’s neck.
How Do The Detroit Lions Match Up With The Chicago Bears Defense?
I don’t think the Lions are going to have trouble with this defense. They may not have a great time running the ball, but I just don’t see the Bears having any chance at covering Jones, Tate, and Boldin on third down. The Bears don’t really have any scary pass rushers at this point, and their D-line doesn’t really generate much push up the middle. The Bears have a lack of seasoned talent at the corner position, so they’re going to need safety help. That is going to leave a linebacker in coverage on Ebron, Riddick, or both in passing situations, and I will take that all day.
Jay Cutler might die this season. Honestly, their starting offensive line was so bad that there is not a way to even judge Cutler. The Bears were only down ten points at the end of the first quarter, but they really did nothing on offense against the Broncos’ number one defense. Brian Hoyer of course looked great running the second team offense, that’s what he does. Of course, he eventually Hoyered ™ a ball over a receiver’s head and ruined his stat line when that receiver put the ball in the air with a set worthy of an Olympic beach volleyball player. Hoyer had more time in the pocket, as the Broncos depth has clearly suffered with the loss of so many free agents in the wake of their Super Bowl victory and a few starters not playing this week.
Jeremy Langford is a plodding running back. That’s really all there is to say about him. He’s not bad but he’s not going to create yardage, which means with this offensive line he’s not going to get yardage. I’d stay away from him on your fantasy team, unless I am in your league, in which case you should totally take him. I don’t see Langford succeeding behind this offensive line, whereas I can see Jaquizz Rogers creating yardage with his explosive cuts and speed, and Ka’Deem Carey also potentially putting up better numbers behind this line. Both other players are better on passing downs as well, and I fully expect this offense to be facing some ugly down and distance combinations.
Some played…. but nothing of note occurred.
Alshon Jeffrey is a beast with the ball in his hands. If he can stay healthy he can most definitely be the number one receiver in a quick hitting pass offense. Kevin White is disturbingly quick and fast. If he can stay healthy he can most definitely be the number one receiver in a quick hitting pass offense. If they can’t, which is statistically likely, I do not know who Cutler is going to throw the ball to. Mark Marianni looks like he’s got the third receiver spot right now but that’s not a good thing, and if he were bumped up the line up it would likely be disastrous. The rest of the Bears receivers are awful – to a man.
Train Wreck. This could actually be a good offense if it got blocking. Not top ten, but with the defense having improved as it has, this team could have made some noise if it wasn’t going to three and out most of it’s drives. It was like watching four or five players race to Jay Cutler or Jeremy Langford around pylons. I would feel bad if it wasn’t the Bears, but instead this fills me with a sick level of Joy. They were trying second round rookie Cody Whitehair at Center in his first NFL action with the second team offense. That’s a position he has never played, and it was awful, but not really any more awful than their other centers, at least he could block a bit. Their starters were awful, their backups were awful, and their third stringers were awful. there is no reason for the Bears or their fans to have any optimism coming out of this game that their offensive line will be anything but horrendous. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
How do the Detroit Lions Match up with the Chicago Bears Offense?
There is only one thing that I worry about at all for the Lions against the Chicago Bears. Historically if Darius Slay had a weakness it has been big physical receivers. Nevin Lawson is 5’9″ making him a bad match up against the 6’4″ Jeffrey. The Lions used to put Mathis on receivers that were giving Slay issues , but he is no longer with the team. I don’t see the Bears being able to fully exploit that, and it has been much less of an issue for Slay recently than it was earlier in his career. Other than that one match up I just don’t see any advantages for the Bears offense. The Lions have plenty of speed in their secondary and a great free safety for over the top help with Kevin White, who can take every ball he touches to the house, but the offensive line being as terrible as it is will really limit the opportunities for Cutler to connect with White on deep balls. The Lions also brought in some stout run defenders on their Defensive line, along with the combination of Taylor and Ansah for rushing the passer. I think the Bears are at least another season of fixing their offensive line away from being much of a threat to anyone offensively.
So How Will The Detroit Lions Do Against the Chicago Bears This Season?
I am calling two wins for the Lions in their games against the Bears unless some of the Bears draft picks step up in a big way over the course of the preseason, The Bears offense just is not going to put up points, and their defense isn’t going to be able to get much pass rush, or cover the Lions skill position players. If the Bears rookies do step up in a big way that outlook could change, as they have drafted players to fill their holes. Counting on that many rookies this year would likely be a mistake for John Fox, and he doesn’t usually make many of those when rebuilding a team. At this point it looks like another season of waiting for the Chicago Bears and their fans, but that’s why they play the games.